Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations (FIACONA) Pray for a Persecuted Church
 Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations (FIACONA)Pray for a Persecuted Church

Latest News

Pastor in India forced to flee his home after enduring ‘merciless torture’ by police.

July 24 Christian Post

A pastor in northern India was forced to flee his village after police detained him, his wife and three children, one of whom is 2 years old, and tortured him for sharing the Gospel.
Pastor Sanjay Kumar Bharati and his family moved more than 600 miles away from his village in Shyampur area of Uttarakhand state’s Haridwar district, Morning Star News reported, adding that police had unofficially ordered him to leave the village.
Bharati and his family were detained on June 13 on a complaint of violating COVID-19 restrictions. But as they tortured him, police only interrogated him about his conversion to Christianity and his preaching of the Gospel.
“As soon as I was taken inside the police station, a policeman slapped me three or four times on my face and punched me in my stomach,” the pastor was quoted as saying. “He hurled curses and accused me of alluring people and converting them.”....

Some 30 Christians arrested in the Central Indian State of Uttar Pradesh under its anti-conversion law.

July 23 Asian News 

The law criminalises religious conversion, except in the case of "Ghar Wapsi", the reconversion to Hinduism. According to a report by International Christian Concern, 30 Christians were arrested in July, up from previous months.
Police recently arrested nine Christians in Uttar Pradesh for allegedly violating the state’s controversial anti-conversion law, which criminalises religious conversion and denies bail to those accused.
The case is cited in a study by International Christian Concern (ICC), a Christian advocacy group, which reports a recent rise in anti-Christian complaints.
The document quotes one of the Christians, Sadhu Srinivas Gautham, who said that about 25 Hindu radicals stormed a prayer meeting last Sunday in Gangapur town, accusing those present of forcibly converting Hindus to Christianity.
“They raged against me,” Gautham said. “It was ...

 

Pastor in India Driven from Home after Police Torture, Threats Officers arrive with news reporter, reviling him and Christianity.

July 22 Morningstar News

A pastor in northern India was forced to leave his village and flee with his family more than 600 miles away after police last month tortured and threatened him, he said.
Officers in Uttarakhand state on June 13 arrested pastor Sanjay Kumar Bharati, his wife, children and several members of his church in Shyampur, Haridwar District on a complaint of violating COVID-19 restrictions, but as police were beating him their questions and accusations concerned only conversion to Christianity, he said.
Pastor Bharti said officers began beating him as soon as he entered the Shyampur police station. Reviling him and Christianity, they interrogated him as they continued to hit him, he said.
“As soon as I was taken inside the police station, a policeman slapped me three or four times on my face and punched me in my stomach,” Pastor Bharati told Morning...

Latest News

Judges pay tribute to Indian Jesuit's service

July 20 UCA News

Bombay High Court has expressed “great respect” for the work done by Indian Jesuit priest Stan Swamy, who died in custody on July 5.
The 84-year-old, who suffered from Parkinson’s disease, hearing impairment and other age-related ailments, never recovered from the hardships of being confined in a jail without basic services.
Justice S.S. Shinde and Justice N.J. Jamadar of the top court in the western state of Maharashtra were hearing the late priest’s bail appeal posthumously on July 19
“We don’t have time normally, but I saw the funeral service [of Father Swamy]. It was very gracious,” Justice Shinde said. 
“He is such a wonderful person. The kind of service he has rendered to the society. We have great respect for his work. Legally, whatever is there against him is a different matter.”

The judges also tried to counter criticism of the judicial system and the National Investigation Agency (NIA), a federal anti-terror body  ....

Indian bishop condemns Pegasus spying scandal.

July 20 UCA News

Bishop Lobo says alleged government snooping on citizens is 'completely unethical'
Media reports claim that Israel-made spyware Pegasus was believed to have been used to track more than 300 Indian phone numbers including those of journalists, politicians, government officials and rights activists.
The Israeli cyberweapon company NSO Group was also fined in 2019 for hacking phones of around 1,400 users around the world, including 121 Indians.
“It is completely unethical as we have the fundamental right to privacy given by the constitution of India and spying on someone’s private life is a threat to the citizens of a democratic country,” Bishop Salvadore Lobo of Baruipur, chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India’s office of social communications, told UCA News.
“We can understand when the government sometimes spies on some social elements when it thinks that they pose a threat to national ...

Delhi, Syro-Malabar church priests pray amidst the rubble of a  church torn down by the Modi government (VIDEO). 

July 19, Asian News

The Syro-Malabar diocese of Faridabad has appealed to the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to pave the way for the reconstruction of the Little Flower Church in New Delhi, which was demolished last July 12  because it was considered unauthorised despite the fact that it had been operating for almost 15 years.
"We call on you to intervene immediately," writes Bishop Kuriakose Bharanikulangara, "to rebuild and restore the damage caused to the faithful in this place of prayer, which they devastated without any respect". At the same time, the diocese has also approached the National Commission for Minorities on the issue, while - as the video shows - the community continues to gather to pray amidst the rubble. Kerala's local government chief Pinarayi Vijayanha also said he was shocked by the demolition. "Something like this should not have happened, we will...

Latest News

Christian Father Charged after Hindus Attack Daughter in India.

July 16 MorningStar News

Church member apparently pressured into giving false statement.
Hard-line Hindus in northern India who attacked a young Christian woman have filed fabricated charges against her father – basing their case on testimony from a Christian relative apparently pressured into giving a false statement, sources said.
The father, Shriram Gautam, was charged with outraging the modesty of a woman and other baseless accusations after he rushed out of his house on May 24 to rescue his daughter from hard-line Hindus in Mansura village, Kanpur District, Uttar Pradesh state. The drunken Hindus had attacked 23-year-old Anamika Gautam with lathis (bamboo clubs bound with iron) and steel rods, vowing to publicly humiliate and beat her and her father to death, she said.
“They told me that I belong to a family which carries out forced conversions, and that they do not have any respect for such ....

Church alarm over police order to monitor Indian Christians.

July 16 UCA NEws

Head of Christian forum says the move in Chhattisgarh is bigoted and violates the constitution
The superintendent of police in Sukma district in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh has asked police to monitor the activities of Christian missionaries and tribal converts.
In an official letter dated July 12, Sunil Sharma accused Christian missionaries of entering tribal areas and persuading non-Christian tribal people to be converted by enticement or allurement. He said conflicts had occurred between tribal people over conversions.
Christian leaders say the order is part of an anti-Christian wave continuing in the state. 
“Police are supposed to be neutral and ensure every citizen's rights but here the police are behaving like a political party and seem blatantly against the Christian community,” Arun Pannalal, president of Chhattisgarh Christian Forum, said in a July 13 press statement. ...

OPINION: More to come.  The disturbing implications of the custodial death of Father Stan Swamy 

July 17 The Telegraph

The custodial death of Father Stan Swamy, a physically frail octogenarian social worker, left me thinking, as a citizen, about its larger significance. It is obviously something to be deeply ashamed about. It represents the cruelty, callousness and violence of the State at its worst. Not all Indians will share this same feeling, though. Many will defend it as collateral damage in the fight against terrorism and political violence. Others will remain silent with the plea that it does not concern them. A few will remain significantly silent, signalling a strong endorsement of the event. I thought of splitting my feelings into a number of arguments that lead to rather disturbing conclusions. Such deaths have occurred many times in the past, and will occur again in the future. The Stan Swamy case is only a recent example that can be analysed....

Latest News

Within Six Months, We Can Bring Media under Control, Take Them Over: New BJP TN Chief

July 14 The Wire News

Newly appointed president of the Tamil Nadu unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), K. Annamalai, has said he can bring the “media in the state under control within six months”, news reports said.
Annamalai made the statements on July 14, Wednesday, while addressing party workers during a road show from Coimbatore to Chennai, before taking oath as party president. He is expected to take oath on July 16 at the party headquarters in Chennai.
L. Murugan, who is now minister of state for information and broadcasting, would take care of all the media, he said.
Tamil Nadu information technology minister Mano Thangaraj told The Hindu, “His statement is an intimidating one. It is highly condemnable…I see this [Mr. Annamalai’s remarks] as a way of coercing the media into being favourable to one party, while the media have the responsibility to uphold freedom of expression.”
According to the daily, Annamalai said, ....

Bishop appeals to Indian PM over church demolition

July 15 UCA News

Archbishop Bharanikulangara says Catholics are in shock over the destruction of Little Flower Church in Delhi
A Catholic bishop in the national capital has urged Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to help rebuild a church demolished by authorities who claimed it was on unauthorized land.
Little Flower Church, managed by the Syro-Malabar Church in Lado Sarai, was pulled down on July 12 following an order from the Delhi Development Authority (DDA).
“We have appealed to Indian premier Modi to look at the matter and do the needful as it is a very serious matter of concern and if not taken seriously it may give a wrong message,” Archbishop Kuriakose Bharanikulangara of Faridabad told UCA News.
“Our papers on church land are complete and there was no such issue in the past. The incident has extremely saddened our people, who are in a state of shock.”
Archbishop Bharanikulangara said the land was bought in 2006 and Little Flower Church had been holding ...

Religious conversion in India: More smoke than fire now?.  

July 16 UCA News

An upper-caste Hindu boy, Narayan Sesadri Parlikar, joined a school run by the Church of Scotland in Bombay way back in 1838. Five years later in 1843, he converted to become a Christian.
The Bombay Courier, the leading English daily of the time, published a column-length story on Parlikar’s conversion, triggering a major upheaval among the city's upper-caste Hindu society.
The day after his conversion, the outraged members of the Brahmin priestly caste to whom the boy belonged, passed a resolution censuring the event.
“The missionaries of Christian faith … distribute books on their dharma (religion). In order to facilitate their efforts, they have established schools. For the sake of education, Hindu boys join their schools. The boys are immature in their understanding of Hindu dharma. Their minds become confused, and many have been converted to Christianity,” the resolution said.
The 19th-century debate on religious ...

Latest News

Darkness at noon, felled by the judiciary.

July 8 The Hindu

Posterity will blame the judiciary for the incarceration and unfortunate death of Father Stan Swamy
It has been 81 years since Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon was first published. The novel is set in the backdrop of the Great Purge of the late 1930s in the Soviet Union under Stalin. This period was marked by, among other things, political repression, police surveillance, general suspicion of the opposition, imprisonment, and executions. Decades on, thousands of miles away, darkness fell at noon in India too, when Father Stan Swamy passed away at a private hospital in Mumbai on July 5. Ominously reminiscent of the macabre world Koestler had drawn, Fr. Swamy’s death is much more than the death of an activist accused of terrorist activities. It is the result of a systemic abuse of majoritarian authority and disregard for the rule of law.....

Editorial (The Telegraph): The predators

July 8, Telegraph India

Predation does not obey frontiers. Perhaps that is the principal inference that needs to be drawn from the list compiled by Reporters Sans Frontieres that has brought together, according to the international media watchdog, the “Predators of Press Freedom”. In what is another dubious achievement, the Indian prime minister has found himself among heads of state and governments that are arguably nibbling away — with relish — at the edifice of an independent media. Keeping Narendra Modi company are North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, Iran’s Ali Khamenei, Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, Myanmar’s army general, Min Aung Hlaing, Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, Hungary’s Viktor Orbán, among others. None of these statesmen can claim to have an envious record when it comes to upholding the cause of a free and fierce media. Significantly, the RSF has unveiled the modus operandi of this....

Fr Stan Swamy, who died on Monday at the age of 84, was laid to rest today.

July 7 Asian News

Fr Stan spent long months in prison on charges of “terrorism” for his commitment to the rights of tribal and Dalit communities.
For his final journey, his body was dressed in a red chasuble, while his hands clasped a chalice and his fingers were entwined with the Rosary....
In all this he valued his priesthood above all else. “Every time I went to visit him [in the hospital]. He was interested in receiving Jesus in Holy Communion,” Fr Mascarenhas noted.
“One particular evening, when I forgot to bring the Holy Communion, after we had chatted for a while, he said, ‘now give me the Communion’. I went back to my parish and brought Fr Stan the Holy Communion, and he was truly grateful for that.  This was the real Fr Stan.”..."

Latest News

Man arrested over pastor's death in northern India.

July 7 UCA News

Pastor Vinod Kumar was murdered after discussing the Christian faith with his attacker
Police in the northern Indian state of Haryana have arrested a Hindu man for killing a pastor last week.
Sonu Kashyap, who was recently released from jail, attacked Pastor Vinod Kumar with a wooden roof truss in Sangoi village in Karnal district on June 30, according to Morning Star News, a persecution watchdog. 
Sources said the pastor was killed for sharing the "love and forgiveness of Christ" with his attacker.
“We came to know about the incident through local people. The news is very shocking and a matter of concern for all of us. It was never heard here of people killing in the name of faith,” Samuel Masih, a member of the Church of Ascension in Karnal, told UCA News.
“The man who allegedly killed the pastor was arrested by local people and handed over to the police on the spot and the matter is under investigation.” ...

UN 'disturbed' by Indian Jesuit's death under detention

July 7 UCA News 

The United Nations said on July 6 it was deeply disturbed by the death in pre-trial detention of Father Stan Swamy, an 84-year-old Indian rights activist and Jesuit priest.
Father Swamy, who was detained for nine months without trial under Indian anti-terror laws, died on Monday ahead of a bail hearing.
The priest, who campaigned for marginalised tribal communities, was arrested last year for allegedly inciting violence between different Indian castes in 2018.
"We are deeply saddened and disturbed by the death of 84-year-old Father Stan Swamy," Liz Throssell, a spokeswoman for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told reporters in Geneva.
Father Swamy was denied bail despite suffering from Parkinson's disease and other ailments. He was admitted to hospital in May with coronavirus and suffered a cardiac arrest over the weekend.
The priest had ...

 

Why is the government of India at war with Twitter?

July 7 Scroll

The past month has seen an unusual, recurring news item dominate the media cycle: the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Indian government taking on the American social media corporation Twitter.
Matters were kicked off in February when a new set of rules for social media platforms and digital news outlets, called the Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code were announced. Amongst other things, they held that social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook needed to censor speech as per an expanded – and vague – set of definitions, set up a compliance team that resides in India and take down content within 36 hours of being ordered to do so by the government.
Expert opinion on the rules has not been positive. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a United States-based digital rights group, has argued that they will have “profound implications for the privacy and freedom of expression” since”....

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